Updated: Aug 1, 2020
After all the build-up following the recent Appellate Court ruling, the Plano Tomorrow Plan (PTP) lawsuit wasn’t addressed at all publicly at Monday’s council meeting, which has left a lot of people to wonder “What the heck?! Where do we go from here, and how is it going to affect the new plan the Plano Comprehensive Plan Review Committee (CPRC) has been working toward for the last seven months?” This is doubly the case since the CPRC is slated this next Tuesday, August 4th, to discuss density in a meaningful way for the very first time.
I’ll address all of this now, and lay out all the logical options in a kind of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure scenario. For the backstory on the Plano Tomorrow Plan and the lawsuit, read my previous piece here.
First, an emergency council meeting has been publicly posted for this Sunday, August 2nd, at 1:00 PM to discuss the Plano Tomorrow Plan lawsuit. If you wish to speak publicly at the meeting, you may register here by 10:00 AM Sunday. If you simply wish to send an email to the city council, you may email email@example.com by 10:00 AM Sunday. You can watch live at PlanoTV.org.
The Logical Options
Two things are happening concurrently:
The Plano Tomorrow Plan Lawsuit has been ongoing
The Comprehensive Plan Review Committee (CPRC), which council created late last year with appointments of sixteen citizens, has been working for several months toward the creation of a new comprehensive plan to replace the old plan: the Plano United 2050 Plan (popular title coined by P&Z Commissioner Nathan Barbera, with updated year suggested by committee member Dr. Yoram Solomon)
Some have asked why the city is working toward a new comprehensive plan, but simultaneously trying to fight the Plano Tomorrow Plan referendum petition; the same question about why put it on the ballot when we’re working toward a new plan anyway. Both are fair questions, and the first at least may be addressed at the emergency meeting on Sunday, because as far as the PTP lawsuit is concerned, there are only two options.
Plano Tomorrow Plan Lawsuit Options
Appeal to the Supreme Court of Texas, and extend this for potentially another year or more
Don’t appeal, in which case the petition will have to be acted on by council
If the city does not appeal, then per the city charter, council has the following two options:
Repeal the Plano Tomorrow Plan, which would lead to two potential options
Put the Plano Tomorrow Plan on the ballot for a referendum, for which there are three options: November, next May, or a Special Election somewhere between now and then; the PTP would then be immediately suspended until the results of the election.
Ramifications for Immediate Repeal of the Plano Tomorrow Plan
If council repeals the PTP, then it’s gone, and we then have the following two options:
We revert to the plan that was in place immediately before the PTP was adopted (whether that’s automatic or done by separate ordinance)
We have no comprehensive plan at all
Options if We Have No Comprehensive Plan
We can zone willy-nilly with no guiding principles, rhyme, or reason
We can simply suspend zoning entirely and tell P&Z to take a vacation (presumably this might entail exemptions for zoning requests that don’t involve construction; that’s a bit nuanced)
Obviously, if there’s no comprehensive plan, and no zoning, efforts for the CPRC to complete the the comprehensive plan would intensify. The committee has a 75 percent vote requirement to adopt anything, which is a pretty high bar, so the double-edge to that sword is that only five people could stonewall the entire process.
Some have suggested that since the CPRC used the non-contentious parts of the Plano Tomorrow Plan as the basis for their work, all their efforts would be scrapped and they’d have to start all over if the PTP is repealed. I don’t see how that works at all, for the same reason that copyright and patent laws don’t apply to derivative works to which material changes have been made. That logic would suggest that no future comprehensive plan can contain any elements of a prior comprehensive plan. If the PTP is repealed, it’s the entire package that’s repealed, not each individual element.
The reality is that that we’re working toward a new plan because the Plano Tomorrow Plan has sown such deep division in our community. Using non-contentious elements as a starting place seems like a good idea to help bridge the divide.
I meant what I said last year when we created the committee, and I believe the rest of council does as well: “I want to move our community forward beyond this division, and work toward a plan for the next thirty years that the overwhelming majority of our people are on board with.”
If you want the same, then make your voice heard by council at firstname.lastname@example.org, or sign up to speak at the meeting on Sunday or email email@example.com specifically for the meeting. Also tune in on PlanoTV.org to watch the meeting and the CPRC meeting on Tuesday.
If you’re not informed and engaged, then you allow government to be something that happens to you.